Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Video Review: WCW Souled Out 2000

VHS Review: WCW Souled Out 2000
Here we go folks yet another retro video review of some of my wrestling collection (before they get confined to the bin). 

Here we have WCW presenting a show that had many promising bouts on paper, but they lacked to ignite a fire in the crowd when they played out. This was unfortunately the way WCW was functioning in this period and it was sad to see the once mighty company reduced to this.

However we did have some decent stuff here and for fans of the era, there are a few faces you will want to see and some moves we have long missed.

In no particular order here are some highlights form Souled Out 2000:

The Hardcore match (for the HC title) between Norman Smiley, Meng, Fit Finlay and Brian Knobbs was a great affair and one that does indeed warrant a few viewings. This is a level of aggression that we miss in this day and age of the PG programming.

Buff Bagwell and Diamond Dallas Page had a decent scrap. This was all down to Bagwell possibly being a love interest for Page's wife Kimberly.

The Madusa/Oklahoma match for the Cruiserweight Title was an odd beats. This was seemingly there purely to show Madusa in her bra and pants.

There were also a few reasonable appearances by Billy Kidman, Vampiro and other low/mid card players in WCW at the time, but they really did not set the place alight.

The two main matches here were the battle for control of the company between the veteran grappler Terry Funk and Kevin Nash. Which was a brutal at times encounter.

The other one was the main event which (due to injuries suffered by Bret Hart and Jeff Jarrett) saw Chris Benoit face off against Sid Vicious for the WCW World Title.

The main event saw Benoit win the gold (even though he was destined to leave the company). This meant that the next night it was deemed that Vicious' leg was under the rope when the three count was called, so he could not be pinned legally. The belt was once again held up.

Souled Out 2000 was a mid-reasonable PPV by WCW, but the cracks were showing here and the bookers were not really making the effort. The writing was on the wall and the WWE buyout was not too far away I am afraid to say.

By Phil Allely

Gail Kim Naughty Festive Angel Pics

Friday, 20 December 2013

WCW Legend DDP coming to the UK in 2014

WCW legend DDP comes to the UK/Ireland

Former WCW World Champion Diamond Dallas Page is to tour the UK in early 2014. This will be the grappler's first ever Q&A's in the country and will also offer special VIP packages, where fans can meet/greet, get items signed and of course have a photo taken with ring legend.

Page had a remarkable run in WCW (where held numerous championships), he was also a manager and did much more before the company folded. He then progressed the WWE, where he had a memorable feud with Undertaker.

Since retiring from the ring DDP has been working on his yoga empire. His methods have helped people across the world, many of them in the world of sports. He has also worked closely with former wrestlers Jake Roberts and Scott Hall, moving the pair in to his own home and working on getting the pair back in shape. He has also dabbled in acting and is a firm fixture at many fan events across the US. 

This Q&A event will certainly touch on many of his famous feuds, life inside and outside of the ring and much more we are sure.

You can see DDP at:

London, The Leicester Square Theatre – Sunday 2nd March
Cardiff, The Glee Club – Monday 3rd March
Birmingham, The Glee Club – Tuesday March 4th
Manchester, The Comedy Store – Wednesday March 5th
Glasgow, The Garage – Thursday March 6th
Belfast, The Empire Music Hall – Sunday March 9th

For more info visit www.eroscomedy.com
By Phil Allely

Phil Allely

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Retro Video Review: WWF Action

This will be the first of many retro video tape reviews I do here for my wrestling ramble column. I am finally disposing of these tapes and want to make sure all you wrestling fans know what they were before I do so.

First up we have the WWF's (yes this was pre-WWE times) release 'Action' .

This special video was a 90 minute look at some of the best action from 2001 in the world of the WWF/WWE.

First up we got a look at just how wonderful the attitude era was. The much-missed Hardcore Championship was one of the best inventions during this era and it was perfectly suited to the time in the companies growth.

The Hardcore Title was created for Mick Foley, but as the violent matches grew so did the titles legacy. By 2001 the championship had become one that had evolved into one that was defended on a 24/7 basis. This led to countless titles changes, many memorable encounters and of course some brutal scraps between some of the WWF's finest at the time. There are many highlights included here. This was a time where the title could change many times on one night and blood would flow with ease, unlike today's family friendly WWE.

Next up we saw one of the WWF of the times less family friendly approaches to wrestling. This was the 'bra and panties' series of matches. These were basically the companies attempt to draw in more male viewers and they were more than often shot scraps that saw one or both of the females involved standing in the ring in their underwear. Here we get to see Ivory, Chyna, Trish Stratus and Terri all involved in these poorly judged encounters.

We then get to see Perry Saturn become a deranged madman (due to countless head shots), the former ECW legend ended up becoming a joke of a character and instead of being aligned with Terri he became obsessed with a mop. I'll not say any more about this storyline as it was awful in my opinion and went on far too long.

The risque and Vince McMahon ego-stroking storyline involving Trish, his wife Linda and daughter Stephanie is equally weird as we get to see Vince kiss, degrade and obsess over Stratus, use his wife for his own maniacal schemes and utilise his daughters love the same way. We do get to see Trish gain a measure of revenge, but much of this was unnecessary.

This all led to a few matches that gave Vince his dream of entering the ring as a wrestler. His appearance in a tag match with Trish, William Regal, Stephanie is featured here in parts and works ok until we see poor Stratus degraded once more. (this was not a highpoint in her illustrious career of the WWE's)

Next up we got the fun and very well conceived romantic relationship between Spike Dudley and Molly Holly. This was a great idea and one that saw the Dudley clan embark on a violent series of match-ups against the Holly family. We don't get to see a while match here, but we do get to see some great highlights and some pretty brutal spots.

WWE legend 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin's heel turn as a member of Mr McMahon's posse is then given some time. This was a period where Austin held the World Title, was joined at the hip with (a comical) Kurt Angle and also put forward some of his most comical performances, just watch out for his guitar spots with Angle and you will see what I mean.

The buyout of WWF rival WCW was a wonderful event and one that many thought the WWE/WWF would have handled expertly. Initially this was the case and the beginnings were indeed boding well for an invasion storyline. However when push came to shove even after an initial burst of well-received matches and even a few title changes the WWE roster began to dominate proceedings and the idea of a separate WCW brand within the WWE/WWF drifted away quickly. The inclusion of the (also) defunct ECW helped a little, but did not do much to boost PPV buy rates and it dropped off the radar too. (ECW did make a brief comeback though).

Had the WCW/ECW invasion been handled better it could have become a huge piece of wrestling history. WCW had of course dominated the ratings over the WWE for many months and had almost crippled the company. Had Steve Austin and his era of superstars not taken with the fans they may well have lost the fight. ECW were never direct competition, but they did offer something different to the WWE product and gave us a much more violent approach to grappling. The inclusion of Vince's son Shane and Daughter Stephanie to the mix was a nice move, but yet it never saw its full potential.

'Action' offers a wonderful peek at the WWF/WWE at a pivotal time in its existence. The 'Attitude' era had begun, Steve Austin's star had risen and a man called 'The Rock' was nipping at his toes. There was also end of rival companies ECW and WCW to factor in, this was the time that the WWE/WWF saw its full potential as world leaders in wrestling.

It may not be available on DVD yet, but this video tape is a very interesting look at the WWF/WWE in a time of its history that many of remember fondly.

By Phil Allely

Monday, 9 December 2013

WWE DVD Review: Best of Madison Square Garden

WWE DVD Review: The Best of Madison Square Garden

In the world of wrestling there is one venue that every fans knows the name of. That venue is new York's Madison Square Garden. The venue itself has relocated a few times and had image overhauls, but no matter what changes have been made, it will always be the spiritual home of the WWE.

This after all was the venue that saw the birth of Hulkamania and also played a pivotal role in wrestling history when it hosted the first ever WrestleMania.

This well-produced three disc set takes a loving and informative look at just how much the WWE owe to such a prestigious venue as this and what appearing in the ring there meant to many of the headliners over the past 40 plus years.

The big question here of course is who does a release like this appeal to? Well the honest answer is more long-term fans of the WWE and those curious about the company's rich history. There are of course more up to date matches etc. (on the third disc), but this is after a historical release and one that has been designed to honour the MSG venue and the wonderful encounters it witnessed over the decades.

The set-up is here that we get a short introduction to each match from a participant (or peer), we then get it in full. There are some nice pieces here, it is especially nice to hear form the likes of Bruno Samartino, Ivan Koloff, Iron Sheik, Harley race and other legends such as Sergeant Slaughter. Which all occur on disc one. This disc gives us a look at some true classics, including Superstar Billy Graham (a man who Hulk Hogan payed homage to with his image) versus Bruno Samartino, Harley Race and Bob Backlund in a title versus title match, Hulk Hogan's legendary sin over The Iron Sheik and the infamous bloodbath of a brawl between The Iron Sheik and Sergeant Slaughter.

Disc two is the one that sees the WWE start to become the arena selling venue that it would become. Here we get to see the match that changed it all Hulk Hogan and Mr T versus 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I). We also get to see a few true classics as well. The Intercontinental Title scrap between (at that time) longest reigning IC champ 'The Honky Tonk Man'and The Ultimate Warrior (SummerSlam 1988) was short and sweet, but perfectly set up the Warrior character. The IC championship battle between Bret 'Hit Man' Hart and Mr Perfect (SumerSlam 1991) is an excellent example of two wrestlers at their peak. The ladder match featuring Shawn Michaels and Razon Ramon (WrestleMania X) is perhaps one of the earliest and finest matches of the genre too. Disc two ends with the surprise match between Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship. The talking heads here will appeal to more modern fans, over the ones on disc 1, watch out for Bob Ueker, The Miz, Bret Hart, Howard Finkel and Kevin Nash amongst others.

The final disc here brings us more up to date (well 2009). Here we get to see The Rock's debut at Survivor Series 1996. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin stunning Vince McMahon. Cactus Jack and Triple H in a Falls Count Anywhere match. The 1st ever Tag Team Tables scrap between The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz. Throw in some matches involving Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Big Show, John Cena and the revamped D-Generation X, and you have one heck of a third disc here.

Extras wise on Blu-Ray you get a few extra matches, a collection of extra stories form some more wrestlers (old and new) who performed at the venue. There is also the induction of Vince McMahon into the MSG Hall of Fame as well.

All in all this release is a great way to learn about the WWE's long association with MSG and also offers an opportunity to see some lesser known matches from the venue as well.

WWE The Best of Madison Square Garden is available now via all good retailers.
RRP £29.99 (DVD), £34.99 (Blu-Ray)

By Phil Allely

Sunday, 8 December 2013

New Interview - TNA's James Storm

Cowboy James Storm Interview
By Phil Allely

James Storm has pretty much done it all in TNA. He has held most of the companies gold and of course had a stint as World Heavyweight Champion. He is also one of the stars of the upcoming UK/Irish tour this coming January. We caught up with him this past week to discuss that tour, his future plans and much more here are some highlights.

Phil: So James what does it mean to be included on the UK/Irish tour?

'It is always great to on the UK/Irish tour. I can say for sure that is my favourite place to go. The fans are all really into it and crazy for what we do.'

Phil: At present it seems as if Ireland will be the only show not recorded for TV. Will it be any different than the others?

'Yes we are doing live shows and a One Night Only PPV in England/Scotland. They will be exciting do be a part of. The big difference between them and our Dublin show is that it is a house show and we will be a bit different as we can relax a bit more. There will no script that night and we will be having out there. You Irish are wild guys and great drinkers, so I'm looking forward to that leg of the tour.'

Phil: How do you feel about the One Night Only format and that it will be made in the UK
'The British PPV will be awesome, the thing about One Night Only shows is that it is an exciting concept and they stand alone outside of our normal storylines. They tell a very different story and are something we can all get our teeth into. They are always fun for us all.'

'The other shows will be live recordings. So they are scripted and need to tell the story. They are tougher to do, but we all have a job to do and you just out there and feel the energy of the fans. I enjoy everything we are doing and this tour has it all.'

Phil: So James do you think in your opinion do you feel the reduction in PPV events by TNA was a good one?

'I definitely think the decision to reduce our PPV to four was a good one. We now have more time to build them up and they are more entertaining for that.'

Phil: What about Hulk Hogan leaving the company. How do you feel about it?

'Yeah, the way I see it Hulk Hogan came and he left. He brought us a whole new level of interest from a lot of markets and he opened doors for us. I don't know if we will see him again, but you have to admit he got our product out there to a wider audience and that is was important to do.'

Phil: What do you think makes TNA different than other companies out there James?

'In my opinion our fans of wrestling tune in to see wrestling. So that is what we offer them. Yes we mix it up and have segments, but we offer fans the best wrestling out there.'

'One thing I will say is that I feel title matches should be defended on PPV and not free TV. It makes the matches more special for us and the fans.'

Phil: Speaking of titles James. Is the World Title on your radar in 2014?

'I'd like to think I will get the World Title back again one day soon. But you really do have to work hard to get that opportunity and I always do.'

Phil: We all know of course that you like a beer and of course there have been other wrestlers who have carried a can or bottle to the ring before. Do you feel you are honouring them or was this a continuation of your own persona?

'People will always compare a wrestler to someone else who has come before them. There are no new things to do any more. I think we all take an idea or a bit of ourselves and we make it our own style. I Mean Steve Austin came out with beer, but he was different than me and of course Sandman came before that. For example am I copying Shawn Michaels by using the superkick? He made it popular, but that has been around a long time.'

Phil: So let's ask you James, what does the future hold for 'The Cowboy'?

'In my future I'd like to see titles, much more wrestling and of course drinking beer.'

Phil: What about the current TNA roster. Have you any of your peers that you feel may be able to step up and win the World Title, if they received the opportunity?

'As for other guys here who have title potential. There is of course Roode and (the UK's own) Magnus is a strong contender too. He (Magnus) loves wrestling and he really wants to succeed. That guy is always watching old matches to learn more. You have to put in the hard work and if you do the time will come.'

Phil; Outside of wrestling what occupies your time James?

'I spend as much time as I can with my family when I am off the road. I like to try to get back some of the time I miss with them. I am also working on a reality show idea I have had for a while. Where I run a bar. I'd love it to take off.'

By Phil Allely

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

DVD Review: WWE Battle Ground 2013

DVD Review: WWE Battleground 2013

In recent years the WWE have taken to creating new Pay-Per-View events and expanding their reach as it where. We are all used to the brands main events, but sometimes it is good to see them offer up something else to us.

Battleground 2013 is an event that saw the company present us with a 'hardcore rules' match, a tag team scrap that involved three generations of a family and a world title encounter that had been many months in the making. There were also many other storyline spots and concepts along the way too.

Yes there were some big stories here at Battleground, but the one that that appealed to your reviewer was the one revolving around the Rhodes family. I have seen Dustin (Goldust) on a few occasions over the years and was always amazed by his in-ring ability. I even fondly remember seeing him at a WCW show in Belfast in the early 1990s and he had a wonderful match with Barry Windham that blew me away. Both men never entered the ring and Rhodes bled heavilly, it was amazing to see live from ringside.

In the last few years Dustin's younger brother Cody had made his mark in the WWE and he has fared well. But when the WWE decided to make a storyline about the Rhodes family it only made sense to involve Dustin/Goldust and their dad Dusty. Dusty is of course a NWA/WCW/WWE legend and one of the men who trains the up and coming WWE stars in the developmental side of the WWE.

I did digress a bit there, but what we have here on this show is a tag team match between The Shield and the combo of Cody and Goldust. With Dusty and Dean Ambrose ate ringside, this leads to a few fun spots I promise and a bionic elbow you simply have to see.

Let's just say this match is an 'American Dream' to see. Elsewhere we get to see Santino and The Great Khali tackle The Real Americans. This is well worth a view for the amazing sight of Cesaro doing the 'Cesaro swing' on the huge frame of Khali.

We are also given a Hardcore Rules match between Rob Van Dam and Allberto Del Rio, an I.C. Bout between Curtis Axel and R-Truth and a Divas cat fight with AJ Lee and Brie Bella.

The Kofi Kingston and Bray Wyatt match did its job well we must add, whilst CM Punk and Ryback went to exactly where it should have too.

The main event featuring Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton (for the vacant WWE Championship) was a joy to behold as well. The finish and twists and turns we dare not say.

WWE Battleground 2013 is a great addition to the WWE PPV calendar and it is well worth a viewing,

Extras wise we have matches, interviews and more.

RRP £17.99 (DVD), £19.99 (Blu-ray)
WWE Battleground is available now from www.wwedvd.co.uk and all good retailers.
By Phil Allely

Sunday, 1 December 2013

WWE DVD Review: Triple H - Thy Kingdom Come

DVD Review: WWE – Triple H 'Thy Kingdom Come'

Triple H (Paul LeVesque) is one of the biggest names in the history of the WWE. He has done it all in the company, from working his way up from an undercard status, to a 13-time World Champion and he has now of course not only made his mark behind the scenes, but married into the McMahon family as well.

This triple-disc set features a two hour documentary that continues to build upon his enduring legacy.

What can you expect from this documentary then?

Let us tell you some of the things you may learn within and also some of the facts and trivia. First up we must say that this may be one of many DVD's dedicated to Triple H, but this is the first that has really made the effort and allowed his real story to be told. We are also treated to a host of talking heads (from stars old and new), back stage moments, interesting information and much more throughout the show.

We kick off with a look at the early days of LeVesque (training under the watchful eyes of wrestling legend Killer Kowalski). We see his bodybuilding days and his entrance into WCW as Terra Ryzing. There are some nice points here as we here that Ric Flair pushed for his signing to WCW and also that our star opted out of a two year deal of $52.000 a year because 'I'll starve for a year, by the end of year one you will know I am worth more. It won't take longer than that for you to find out'.

There are nice moments were we hear that Paul was always at WCW training facility the Power Plant. He had the backing of top WCW stars Terry Taylor and of course his hero Ric Flair as well.

This led to his being repackaged as blue blood type character Jean Paul LeVesque and also a tag team partnership with UK star Steven (later William) Regal.

We then see him get an offer from the WWE and his career come on leaps and bounds. There were of course teething problems with the initial character and of course his adapting to the style of WWE to contend with.

Nicely covered are his inclusion in the infamous 'Kliq' (alongside Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman). Which led to not only some backstage power, but his loss at the King of the Ring tournament , the infamous moment where Nash, Hall and the rest of the Kliq broke character damaged Paul's future for a short while at least here in the WWE (an event that saw Stone Cold Steve Austin win the title and take the WWE to new heights).

However Paul was not a man to give up his dream, so he weathered the storm of losses and even battled to add Chyna (Joanie Laurer) to his character and thus we had our very first ever female wresting bodyguard.

This partnership and his friendship with Shawn Michaels saw the formation of DX. A faction that broke all of the rules within the WWE and rode roughshod over the faces.

This led to some great matches and also the formation of similar factions to compete with the group. The biggest turning point for Triple H was when Michaels was injured and he had to carry the group for a while. Mind you it was not until DX broke up that the Triple H really picked up speed and had some of the finest matches and titles wins of his career.

We are also treated to behind the scenes looks at how his storyline romance with Stephanie McMahon became a reality.

There are also looks at the nasty injuries that almost ruined LeVesque's career, the formation of Evolution (Triple H, Batista, Flair and Randy Orton). His returns form injury and the inevitable return of a more comedic DX (2006), the PG era had to reduce the level of extremity the faction could do these days.

Proceedings here saw Triple H reduce his in-ring presence due to more injuries and his back stage roles.

Along the the way our subject was (like many WWE stars) a part-time actor. He netted himself roles in the Blade 3 and also his own movie vehicle 'The Chaperone'. However he states here that he is not really into movies and thinks that he is happy to do whatever pleases the fans.

The documentary winds up by telling us how Triple H felt about Shawn Michaels retiring, his getting a real job (in the WWE boradroom), having a family and where he sees his future.

From a match point of view we only get to see one WCW encounter (unfortunately). However it is a belter with WWE legend Ricky Steamboat. We also get to see matches with Mick 'Dude Love' Foley, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and a few other key WWE stars.

Blu-ray buyers will also see a wide range of extra features as well.

WWE: Triple H – Thy Kingdom Come is available now from all good retailers now.

DVD RRP £29.99/Blu-ray £34.99

By Phil Allely/Kate McMichael